Farming is usually rural–it’s no coincidence that 73% of FFA members live in rural communities.
So when I say “farming in Seattle,” you might think, “Yeah, more like farming NEAR Seattle.” But what if I told you that of these 16 farms, all of them are either directly in Seattle or less than an hour away?
That’s right. Scroll and start planning your field trip, because trust me–you’ll want to take one.
Think rural environments are the key to farming? Think again! These cool urban farms are revamping the WWII Victory Garden to completely reimagine the future of food production.
You should probably take a day to check out City Grown Seattle alone, because it’s not in one place—it’s spread across the neighborhoods of the city. The farm describes itself as a “multi-plot, urban vegetable farm,” and was founded by Noelani Alexander, who worked for years on organic farms and now brings those practices to City Grown Seattle. And just in case you’re skeptical about urban farming, here’s the extensive list of crops they grow.
Much like City Grown Seattle, Urban Flex Farm partners with the residents of West Seattle to “turn their yards into microfarm sites that grow fresh local vegetables, herbs, and fruit.” Your FFA students will have the opportunity to learn about what it takes to organize a farm like this, as well as good business models that can help farmers operate. In this case, homeowners get a portion of the harvest from their yard, and the rest is sold off to residents in the neighborhood. They also grow some unusual crops, like multicolored carrots or green zebra-striped tomatoes.
This isn’t an urban farm in the traditional sense, but it can give your FFA students a good counter-example. About 25 miles outside of Seattle, Present Tense is a mixed vegetable farm that sits on 4 acres. For students interested in a more rural experience, they can learn from Neil and Jayme about organic growing practices and day-to-day life on an organic vegetable farm—and how to make the transition from city life to farm life.
Out of all the urban farms, this one definitely stands out. Farmbox Greens specializes in microgreens, and they’re grown inside in a controlled (and sustainable!) environment system. In that tiny building, they maximize efficiency, stacking the plants and using 90% less water compared to conventionally grown greens. Plus, they sell their wares to top Seattle restaurants. Want to check it out for yourself? GO GO GO.
Beyond The Farm
These farms have taken organic education to a new level, expanding beyond their humble roots to offer classes and access to a much larger crowd.
Focusing on green and sustainable building design, 21 Acres is more of a learning center for agricultural and environmental education. Take your FFA students for lessons in food availability, environmental preservation, sustainability, and small-scale food economies!
Once a small farm near North Bend, Washington, Full Circle Farm is now a veritable presence in the organic produce scene. If your FFA kids are interested in learning about the process of moving a single farm into a bigger partnership that helps connect customers to locally grown food from farmers all across the West Coast, definitely give Full Circle Farm a call.
Farms That Don’t Grow Vegetables
While most organic farms are focused on produce, a few of these Seattle beauties focus solely on things like lavender, blueberries, flowers, and spices. Sprinkle these into your field trip agenda for a taste of something different!
So maybe the song wasn’t “Lavender Fields Forever,” but I imagine the feeling still applies. On this gorgeous farm, students can learn about the process of growing and harvesting lavender for products like aromatherapy and culinary items, and they get to do it in this incredibly beautiful environment. Pick this one for a relaxing and educational time.
Herbs and peppers? Check out the small farm in the middle of Seattle that’s producing everything from chamomile to turmeric to habanero peppers, and incorporating them into spice blends, teas, vinegars and sauces. Founded by Seattle native Ras Levi Peynado in 2012, your FFA students are sure to walk away as future herb gardeners.
Who among us hasn’t quietly dreamed about living on a flower farm, surrounded by beautiful blooms? Dahlia Barn is filled with fresh flowers (which bloom from late August through mid October), and sits on an old horse farm. It was founded in 2002 by Jerry and Aimee Sherril.
There are blueberry farms, and then there are blueberry farms. Bybee has 6 varieties of blueberries for you (yes, you) to pick. This can be a fantastic learning opportunity for those of your FFA students interested in pursuing berry farming—or it can be a relaxing several hours while you all fill your baskets.
For FFA students that want to know more about farming animals, here are some interesting Seattle alternatives to the vegetable garden.
Give your FFA students the opportunity to hang out with llamas, alpacas, and goats (and chickens, goats, ducks, peafowl, geese, turkey, and dogs) for a day. They also have a farm store with “the best in alpaca goods and other farm-related items.”
Redfeather is a sweet, free-range pig farm, which means your FFA students will 1) get to meet happy baby pigs, and 2) get to learn about sustainable and kind practices for raising pigs “according to the highest level of care in the industry.”
Remember the importance of letting your students experience things firsthand? Well, why not sign them up for a cheesemaking class? Held on a small family farm, these artisan cheesemakers have been offering classes that teach “the centuries-old craft” since 2006, using locally sourced milk and their own two hands.
Farms With Fun Activities
Raise your hand if you’ve ever wanted to curl up at the end of a long day of field trips and just pet some baby goats or wander aimlessly through a corn maze. These three farms offer traditional family-fun activities that’ll give you (and your students!) the much-needed excuse to play.
At Fox Hollow Farm, your FFA kids can take a break from their intense learning, especially because visitors over age 15 are free. In the fall, they can sit around the gorgeous changing leaves as they roast s’mores by a campfire. In the spring, they can pick apples, tomatoes, peas, lettuce, as well as several varieties of berry. And did I mention the baby animals? Definitely a relaxing place to end your trip.
Your FFA students can come see Foster’s Produce in the fall for a corn maze (updated yearly), a pumpkin patch, and a host of other entertaining activities—cow barrel train rides, anyone? The summer is more culinary—fresh produce, homemade ice cream, and colorful summer flowers.
Another kid-friendly farm with the requisite fun activities, FFA students can also come to Remlinger to learn about their sustainable agriculture practices that use “a combination of winter cover crops, crop rotation, and the use of organic fertilizers.” Ask about testing the soil for balancing purposes, and take home one of their famous bulk bags of popcorn.
But no matter which farm you go to, you’re bound to discover something new and exciting about Seattle’s local and organic agriculture.
Which farms are you excited to explore? Let us know in the comments!